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Our Australian Trip: An Unforgettable Honeymoon Adventure

Explore 'Our Australian Trip': A honeymoon adventure through Sydney's charm, Airlie Beach's beauty, and unforgettable culinary delights.


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Brunch at Morning After, Brisbane
Brunch at Morning After, Brisbane

A honeymoon trip


Even though we married in June 2023, we decided to wait and embark on our honeymoon in December of the same year. Why? 


Since we had chosen Australia as our destination, we had happily agreed to wait, eagerly anticipating the warmth of its summer—a stark contrast to the chilly January we'd left behind. 


Relaxing at Airlie Beach
Relaxing at Airlie Beach

This trip was a celebration of our union and a journey of discovery. It was my first visit to the continent, while for Charlene, who was born in Australia, it was her first visit to her homeland since leaving at age 14. 


Having made our way via Turkey and Singapore after 14 hours of flying, we looked forward to exploring the bustling cities, vibrant food scenes and beautiful nature.


The Malta-Australia Connection


Let's briefly delve into the Malta-Australia connection first. Most (if not all) Maltese have relatives who live in Australia. Why is this so? Let's go back to the post-World War II period. Europe lies in ruins, and Malta is no different. Life is hard, and people dream of better fortunes elsewhere.


In this gloomy scenario, Australia emerged as a beacon of hope for many, including the Maltese, who sought new beginnings in its welcoming shores. This migration, encouraged by both governments, marked the start of a profound cultural exchange that would enrich Australia's multicultural mosaic. 


Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Years Eve
Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Year's Eve

The Maltese community, now one of the most prominent outside Malta, brought their rich cultural traditions and culinary heritage to Australia, weaving them into the fabric of society. They've maintained their cultural identity through social clubs, churches, and community centres while integrating into the broader Australian community. 


This legacy of migration is a testament to the enduring bond between Malta and Australia, a relationship built on mutual respect and shared history.


Sydney: The Start of Our Adventure


Our honeymoon adventure commenced in the vibrant city of Sydney, where Charlene was born. Our first encounter was with the breathtaking Sydney Harbour. The sight of the Sydney Bridge and Opera House against the backdrop of the azure sky was a mesmerising welcome to this continent. 


This visit, just days before the New Year, set the stage for what was to become a series of unforgettable experiences. Celebrating New Year's Eve in Sydney was one of the highlights of our trip. We spent the afternoon till midnight, picnicking with friends and hundreds of others who gathered there. This was the prequel to the spectacular fireworks display from the Sydney Bridge. 


Beautiful Sydney Harbour
Beautiful Sydney Harbour

Having seen it all my life on TV only, it was an emotional feeling to finally see this spectacle live! The fireworks, bursting in colours against the night sky, gave that magical touch to our celebrations going into 2024.


A few days into our Sydney adventure, we had the delightful opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea on a ferry cruising around Sydney Harbour. This was not just any afternoon tea but an exquisite blend of culinary delights and scenic beauty. 


Midnight celebrations at Sydney Harbour
Midnight celebrations at Sydney Harbour

As we sipped on prosecco and savoured an array of afternoon staples, the gentle sway of the ferry and the serene views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge created a picturesque backdrop to our leisurely afternoon. 


Afternoon tea on a boat in Sydney Harbour
Afternoon tea on a boat in Sydney Harbour

This unique and memorable experience allowed us to see the city's charm from a different perspective, reminding us of the breathtaking New Year fireworks we had witnessed from the same area just days before.


Afternoon tea on a boat in Sydney Harbour

A Morning at The Grounds of the City


Our culinary journey in Sydney led us to The Grounds of the City. It is a café that transports you to a bygone era with its old-world charm in the heart of the Sydney CBD. This Parisian-bistro-inspired cafe and restaurant offered us a quick escape from the hum of city life, transporting us to an era filled with elegance and style.

 


The Grounds of the City in Sydney
The Grounds of the City in Sydney

For breakfast, we indulged in some avocado on sourdough toast, pancakes, and a fancy affogato, each dish a testament to the cafe's commitment to quality and flavour. The buzzing yet intimate ambience reminded us of the city's ability to seamlessly blend the old with the new. 


The Grounds of the City in Sydney

The style and vibe of the place were captivating. However, here's a word of advice for future visitors: booking ahead is a tip we'd pass on to anyone visiting; otherwise, you are in for a long wait.


The Grounds of the City in Sydney

The Queen Victoria Building: A Shopping and Historical Experience


A visit to Sydney would only be complete with a stroll through the Queen Victoria Building (QVB). Opened in 1898, this architectural marvel, with its Romanesque revival style, houses a variety of boutiques and eateries, making it a paradise for those who appreciate the finer things in life. 


The building's history, preserved amidst the hustle and bustle of modern Sydney, offers a glimpse into the past. At the same time, its array of shops provides a taste of contemporary Australian culture. 


Queen Victoria Building in Sydney
Queen Victoria Building in Sydney

The Sweet World of Tim Tams: Australia's Beloved Biscuit


Any journey through Australia would only be complete with indulging in the iconic Tim Tams, a treat that Charlene reminisced about fondly. A rare find on our islands, Tim Tam packets are in every store in Australia—a cornerstone of the land down under.


Introduced in 1963, Tim Tams were inspired by the British Penguin biscuit but quickly carved out their identity. They've become more than just a snack; they're a cultural emblem, synonymous with the Australian way of life. The unique blend of crunchy biscuits, creamy chocolate filling, and a smooth chocolate coating makes them irresistible. 



Over the years, Tim Tams has evolved into a variety of flavours. Having tasted them all (I mean it, all of them), I still found the original ones to be my favourite. Their appeal stretches far beyond the shores of Australia, making Tim Tams a coveted treat worldwide. They're often the gift of choice for those seeking a taste of Australian sweetness and indulgence. 


They're not just a biscuit but a part of the national identity. Their presence is felt in social gatherings and celebrations, often evoking a sense of nostalgia and a reminder of home for many Australians.


More flavours of Australia: The Cherry Ripe


Cherry Ripe is a chocolate bar that's as much a part of the Australian fabric as the sun-drenched beaches and the sprawling outback. With its rich history and unique flavour, this beloved treat has become a symbol of Australian confectionery. 


Introduced in 1924 by MacRobertson's Chocolates, Cherry Ripe tantalises the taste buds with its blend of ripe cherries and moist coconut, all enrobed in luscious dark chocolate. It's not just its age that makes it special; it's one of the oldest chocolate bars in Australia, evoking a sense of nostalgia and familiarity among Australians. 


Tm Tams and Cherry Ripe
Yes, we stocked up on Tim Tams and Cherry Ripe and all the rest!

Its enduring popularity is a testament to its distinct taste and its standing as a quintessential Australian snack, setting it apart from other chocolate bars. If you want to try your hand at creating your cherry ripe bars, we have you covered with our Frozen Cherry Ripe Dessert recipe.


Airlie Beach: A Gem by the Sea


Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill: A Culinary Discovery


Our journey took us next to the stunning vistas of Airlie Beach, where we found a beautiful spot in Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill. With its ocean views, generous food portions, and an extensive selection of beers, it quickly became our go-to dining spot. 


Bar food at Northerlies
Bar food at Northerlies

Our tips? The fish and chips and the bar snacks, particularly the parmesan fries and oysters, were highlights of our meals there.


Fish & Chips at Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill
Fish & Chips at Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill

Freedom Shores: Our Home in Airlie Beach


Our stay at Freedom Shores added an extra layer of luxury to our beachside adventure. With its unique accommodations and stunning location, this boutique resort was the perfect base to explore the Whitsundays. 


The resort's commitment to providing a serene and exclusive experience was evident in every detail, from the design of the rooms to the impeccable service.



Brisbane, Brunchin & The Food Festival


A Celebration of Culinary Diversity


One of the most memorable experiences of our trip was our visit to Eat Street in Northshore. Here is the setting - a mini food festival that happens each week, hosted by an area near the sea made of metal containers converted into vibrant and colourful food spaces. It was, as we had hoped, like Disneyland for food enthusiasts. 


Eat Street in Northshore, Brisbane
Eat Street in Northshore, Brisbane

The festival was alive with lights, music, and the irresistible aromas of dishes from around the world—Japanese, Thai, Korean, Italian, and many other cuisines. The availability of cocktails, craft beers, and wines added to the festive atmosphere, making it a celebration of food, community, and culture.


Asian food in Eat Street, Brisbane

The festival's vibrant atmosphere was enhanced by the performances on the MainDeck stage, where local and touring bands played. The music, the people, and the food created an enchanting environment that was the perfect backdrop for an evening of exploration and enjoyment. 


Lively stage in Eat Street, Brisbane

It was a night that encapsulated the spirit of our Australian trip—diverse, vibrant, and unforgettable.


Brunch and International Cuisine


Like in many parts of the world, the fusion of breakfast and lunch has become a staple in the Australian dining scene. Across the country, cafes and restaurants have wholeheartedly embraced this trend, often blending local and international flavours to craft innovative and delightful dishes. 


Brunch at Morning After, Brisbane
Our brunch food at Morning After, Brisbane

More than just a dining experience, brunch in Australia is a social event for friends and families to come together and enjoy relaxed mornings. This widespread embrace of brunch highlights Australia's vibrant café culture and enthusiasm for culinary exploration. One of our favourites was Morning After, in Cambridge Street, Brisbane. 


Busy and vibrant atmosphere, we utterly enjoyed our Honey buttered French toast (with caramelised banana, maple, gelato and pistachio crumb), along with spicy honey-glazed smoked bacon and scrambled egg dish with cheesy potato hash cake, onion and mustard chutney.


Petting kangaroos at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Petting kangaroos at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

After that, full and happy, we headed to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to wander around Australia's diverse fauna and take pictures! Then it was time to head to our next destination - Adelaide, where we would first visit the Penfolds Wineries and then get a ferry to what would eventually become one of our favourite places on the continent - Kangaroo Islands!



Adelaide, Penfolds and A Serene Escape at Kangaroo Islands


Asian restaurant tip - Ryumon Ramen!


Firstly, let us tell you about a lucky find. We love Asian food, and during our stay in Adelaide, we discovered what we think is a gem: Ryumon Ramen Izakaja. Nestled in a bustling street in the city centre, this restaurant offered us a delightful escape after a long day of exploration. Admittedly, we only did a little research on food places in Adelaide and ended up here because we liked the look of it—a classic case of judging a book by its cover.


Delicious ramen bowl at Ryumon Ramen!
Delicious ramen bowl at Ryumon Ramen!

I'm glad we did! The broth was a harmonious blend of rich and savoury flavours that only hours of simmering could achieve. The pork was tender, whilst the creamy boiled egg that lay delicately atop was the perfect finish. Charlene was also very happy with her sushi and seaweed. Recommended.


Exploring the Rich Wine Regions of Australia


Next up was our visit to Penfolds. Australia has a deep-rooted viticulture heritage, with the roots of this thriving industry dating back to the arrival of the First Fleet in the late 18th century. 


Its vineyards span over 170,000 hectares across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland. Key grape varieties like Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay showcase the country's diverse viticultural landscape.


The vaults at Penfolds estate
The vaults at Penfolds estate

As of 2015, Australia stood as the 7th largest wine producer in the world, crafting approximately 1,200 million litres annually. Interestingly, less than 40% of this production is consumed domestically, making Australia the 4th largest wine exporter globally. 


Adelaide is renowned for its bold red wines. Here, we had the privilege of visiting the Penfolds Magill Estate, an iconic name in the Australian wine industry. Established in 1844 by Dr. Christopher and Mary Penfold, the winery has evolved remarkably. 


Penfolds estate

During our tour, we discovered that Penfolds was initially known for producing sherries and fortified wines. This transformation is largely attributed to visionaries like Mary Penfold and, later, Chief Winemaker Max Schubert. Schubert's creation of Penfolds Grange in the 1950s was a defining moment. This wine has since become a symbol of lasting legacy and excellence. 


Penfolds estate entrance

Today, the Penfolds brand is known worldwide. The wine-tasting session that followed the tour was great, and we tasted some beautiful wines (although Charlene complained she wasn't getting the same amount of wine as me—she was right). Our overall favourite and definite top recommendation is 'Father Grand Tawny 10-Year-Old', a beautiful red wine that has a touch of sweet but bold character.


Brunch at Emu Bay Lavender Farm


Our journey through Kangaroo Island brought tranquillity, serenity, amazing beaches, and great food spots. Emu Bay Lavender Farm is a tranquil oasis amidst the vibrant hues of lavender.


This charming farm gate cafe is not just a feast for the eyes but also for the palate, offering an array of lavender-infused delights. Known for their on-site production, they craft an extensive range of lavender products, adding a unique touch to their offerings.


Brunch at Emu Bay Lavender Farm
What a great Brunch at Emu Bay Lavender Farm

The cafe at Emu Bay Lavender is renowned for its oversized lavender scones and handmade ice cream, treats that perfectly capture the essence of the farm. However, what truly captivated us was their breakfast and lunch menu, a delightful array of dishes that combined flavour with creativity. 


A standout for us was their Halloumi Bowl – a delectable combination of fried halloumi, quinoa salad, roasted vegetables, corn rib, spiced chickpeas, and crunchy fried kale. Each bite was a harmonious blend of textures and flavours, showcasing the cafe's commitment to fresh, quality ingredients.


A Taste of the Sea at Kangaroo Island's Oyster Farm Shop


We love Oysters and are always excited about getting them. Their major drawback is how expensive they are! That is why we were very excited about visiting The Oyster Farm Shop, where we were fortunate to embark on a private tour of the area and the working farm, culminating in the delightful tasting of fresh oysters, a true highlight of our visit.


Kangaroo Island's Oyster Farm Shop
Fresh oysters at Kangaroo Island's Oyster Farm Shop

The story behind The Oyster Farm Shop is as captivating as its oysters. Owned by Ken and Amanda, this enterprise is a testament to their dramatic shift from corporate IT careers and city life to the tranquil and sustainable practice of oyster farming. 


In 2005, they decided to move to Kangaroo Island, driven by a desire to provide a "free-range" upbringing for their children that resonated with their values of environmental sustainability and community contribution. Their venture into saltwater farming, influenced by their family history, has resulted in a sustainable business and a fulfilling lifestyle, offering their children the freedom and safety they cherished in their childhoods.



The Oyster Farm Shop offers visitors an immersive experience in the American River township on Kangaroo Island. It's a place where one can witness the entire process of oyster cultivation - from harvesting and grading to shucking. 


The farm is renowned for using intertidal and subtidal farming techniques, adeptly adapted to the seasonal tides, ensuring year-round productivity. This long and exhaustive process and shipping explain why getting oysters is so expensive.


Kangaroo Islands and nature


Talking about Kangaroo, we must mention the nature and amazing beaches we visited. One that definitely stands out is Stokes Bay. I have never seen anything like it live. 


First, you must pass through a narrow stretch of rock until you reach paradise—an immense stretch of white sand, a clear blue sea, and cleanliness you can only dream of. We counted the number of persons present—20, including us!


Stokes Bay
Stokes Bay is amazing!

Also, while exploring the beauty of Kangaroo Island, please remember its natural inhabitants and be careful. Driving through the island, especially during late evenings and nights, requires mindfulness of the local fauna, such as kangaroos, who often cross the streets. 


This coexistence with nature adds to the island's charm and reminds visitors of the importance of respecting the natural environment. Stay safe, for your sake and that of the fauna.



Journey to Uluru - Ayers Rock and the food


Aboriginal Culture and Cuisine


A defining moment of our Australian adventure was the awe-inspiring flight to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. Having taken a flight back to Sydney and then caught a 4-hour flight to the very centre of the continent. On our way to Uluru, I found it fascinating to see the vast land this content encompasses!


Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock is a natural wonder

Ayers Rock is a majestic sandstone formation that stands proudly in the heart of Australia. Ayers Rock is a natural wonder and a sacred site for Indigenous Australians. It is believed to have formed around 550 million years ago.


To maximise our experience, we booked our places at the Wintjiri Wiru, a mesmerising evening celebration of Aboriginal cuisine and culture. The name Wintjiri Wiru, which translates to 'beautiful view out to the horizon' in the local Pitjantjatjara language, perfectly encapsulates the essence of this experience. 


It was a cultural storytelling journey, bringing the ancestral Mala story to life through a spectacular display of choreographed drones, lasers, and projections against the night sky. This unique fusion of ancient storytelling and modern technology, set in the backdrop of Australia's heartland, was nothing short of magical. 


Aboriginal Australian cuisine has a tradition of over 60,000 years and a profound connection to the land. Known as "bush tucker," traditional Aboriginal foods vary greatly across Australia's diverse ecosystems. These include native fruits like quandongs and finger limes, vegetables like warrigal greens, and protein sources like Kangaroo and emu. 



Techniques like firestick farming, which have been used for centuries to manage the landscape sustainably, highlight the deep environmental knowledge of Aboriginal Australians. These food practices intertwine cultural ceremonies with storytelling. They are about sustenance and passing down knowledge through generations.


After a desert walk to an open-air theatre, we were treated to cocktails and a gourmet dinner featuring native ingredients. This culminated in a technologically enhanced portrayal of the Mala story accompanied by traditional music and narration. This immersive event showcased ancient lore and deepened our connection to the land's rich cultural heritage.



The resurgence of interest in these traditional foods has led to their increasing incorporation into contemporary Australian cuisine, celebrating the rich culinary heritage of Australia's First Peoples. 


Melbourne: Full of Culture and Coffee!


Immersing in Melbourne's Coffee Culture and Culinary Delights


Melbourne's coffee culture is a vibrant tapestry, rich in history and passionately woven by the city's love for quality coffee. This culture blossomed in the 1950s, fueled by the influx of Italian and Greek immigrants who introduced the city to European-style espresso after World War II. 


Ramen tasting in Melbourne
Ramen tasting in Melbourne

Today, Melbourne is a beacon of coffee excellence. It is renowned for its high-quality brews and innovative techniques like pour-over, siphon, and cold drip. Esteemed roasters and skilled baristas are at the heart of this culture, continually pushing the boundaries of coffee-making.

 

Patricia Coffee Brewers
Patricia Coffee Brewers interior

Melbourne's coffee spots are more than just places to get a caffeine fix; they are social hubs with unique ambience and speciality, forming an integral part of the city's identity.


Among these, Patricia Coffee Brewers, nestled at the rear of 493-495 Little Bourke Street, became our favourite haunt. Established in 2011 by Bowen Holden and Pip Heath, Patricia is a microcosm of Melbourne's dynamic coffee scene. Named in honour of their grandmother, Patricia started by featuring a variety of local roasters and later began roasting its beans, deepening its connection to the craft. 



Offering a unique blend, single-origin espressos, and a rotation of guest coffees, Patricia is a haven for coffee enthusiasts. Complemented by local bakeries treats, it emphasises quality and community spirit. With plans to expand its roasting operations, Patricia is a testament to the evolving nature of Melbourne's coffee culture.


Enjoying lamingtons in Melbourne city centre
Enjoying lamingtons in Melbourne city centre

Our culinary journey in Melbourne also introduced us to the iconic Lamingtons, a quintessential Australian treat. These sponge cakes dipped in chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut, are believed to be named after Lord Lamington, a former Governor of Queensland. Found in cafés and bakeries across the country, Lamingtons are deeply embedded in Australian culture, often gracing various events and celebrations.


Enjoying Ice-Cream whilst roaming in Melborune
Enjoying Ice-Cream whilst roaming in Melborune

Another memorable experience was visiting Montalto Winery in the picturesque Red Hill region outside Melbourne. Invited by Allan and Manuela, a delightful couple we met during our travels, we indulged in the winery's exquisite offerings. The Restaurant at Montalto presented a constantly evolving set menu, celebrating seasonal heirloom produce from their estate and the finest locally sourced ingredients from the Mornington Peninsula. 


Food and wine in Montalto Estate
Food and wine in Montalto Estate

Dining at Montalto, with its stunning vineyard views, was not just a meal; it was a sensory journey that we will cherish forever. This experience encapsulated the essence of our Australian adventure - a blend of rich flavours, cultural heritage, and breathtaking landscapes.


We'll be back!


Well, there you have it – our whirlwind honeymoon down under. From the buzzing streets of Melbourne with its unbeatable coffee culture to the tranquil beauty of Kangaroo Island, every moment was a slice of magic. 


We sipped, savoured, and soaked in everything Australia had to offer, from the rich history of Uluru to the culinary delights of Adelaide and beyond.



This trip was more than just a journey; it was a deep dive into a culture as diverse as beautiful. We laughed, learned, and lived every moment to the fullest. Australia has left an indelible mark on our hearts with its warm people, stunning landscapes, and incredible food.


So, is this goodbye? Not a chance. We're already dreaming of our next visit because once you've tasted Australia, there's no turning back. Until next time, Australia, you've been absolutely unforgettable.


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